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Federal Grants To Aid Homebuyers

WASHINGTON-The House is expected to vote passage of a bill that will provide $400 million in grants to help low-income people make downpayments and help finance closing costs on their first homes.

The bill, called the American Dream Downpayment Act, would provide $200 million for each of the next two years to fund $5,000 grants for as many as 40,000 eligible recipients. If approved, as expected, the bill must go to the Senate for its concurrence.

Zions Bank SVP Enters Gov. Race

SALT LAKE CITY-Republican Speaker of the House Marty Stephens, an SVP at credit union nemesis Zions Bank, has announced his candidacy to succeed Gov. Michael Leavitt, appointed by President Bush to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Stephens, who tried to stay clear of the credit union tax battle last year, even as his employer was the main engine behind the bid to tax the largest state-chartered credit unions.

Stephens told The Credit Union Journal last year he was not involved in the failed legislation, even as credit union adds tried to tie him to the effort.

Despite his unprecedented three terms as House Speaker, Stephens, a 15-year member of the House, will have a tough fight for the nomination in this heavily Republican state, with former Congressman and State House Speaker Jim Hansen, business tycoon Jon Huntsman, Jr., among a field of half a dozen would-be governors already in the race.

MacDill FCU Builds Connectivity

TAMPA, Fla.-MacDill FCU has teamed with Aimbridge Indirect Lending to develop technology that connects the credit union to their funded loan application data, allowing MacDill FCU to automatically retrieve loan data using electronic file transfers in batch format.

After the data is retrieved, it is prepopulated in the credit union's database fields so MacDill employees can complete the auto loan process.

For new credit unions, the technology will automatically create new accounts before entering the loan information.

Check Law Could Have Drawbacks

SAN FRANCISCO-Recently passed legislation facilitating electronic check truncation could have some unintended consequences on the profitability and even viability of checking-share draft accounts, according to one expert in the field.

Mark Webster, of electronic financial services consultant Capco, told the Wespay Payments Symposium here that financial institutions applauding the Check 21 Act and inevitable move to electronic payments from paper checks are overlooking what makes offering checking profitable: overdraft fees.

As much as 25% of net revenue on retail checking accounts comes from overdraft fees and consumer checking generates one third of banks' retail deposit profits, according to Webster. "What's going to happen when you move to an electronic format?" he asked.

Western CUs Offer Overdraft Program

FEDERAL WAY, Wash.-The CU Association of the West, which represents credit unions in four western states, said it has signed an agreement to market John M. Floyd & Associates' Overdraft Privilege program to CUs. The program allows CUs to set limits and fees based on an initial analysis of market rates and the credit union's share draft portfolio, then fully disclose limits, fees, and terms of use to members. John M. Floyd will create a strategic program for each CU and its market to help maximize nonsufficient funds revenue.

Diebold To Partner With Concord EFS

NORTH CANTON, Ohio-Diebold Inc. has signed with Concord EFS to provide a turnkey ATM program that will include everything from ATM hardware to driving and transaction processing to financing.

Concord, which owns the Star ATM network, will provide ATM and point-of-sale driving, network switching and gateways to Visa and MasterCard, reporting and settlement for switched transactions, call center helpdesk, and problem resolution management.

Diebold will provide ATM hardware, software and services, as well as financing through its Diebold Credit Corp. unit.

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